by Jolene Turner The excitement is building for the New York International Gift Fair (NYIGF). "Handmade," featuring 575 designer-makers and production craft representatives and a selection of handcrafted items from home décor to tabletop, and "At Home," encompassing a comprehensive collection of furniture companies and designers, opened today at Pier 94 and the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. Based on feedback from exhibitors, consumers and retailers are seeking gift and home products that speak to their lifestyles more than ever. A major trend this year is artisan-crafted products that are consciously-made, functional, and beautiful, according to Donna Hadjipopov of Bulgar USA, distributors of artisan-made tabletop and textiles from Bulgaria. “Americans are going deeper … I am noticing a trend toward products that speak to a more sophisticated, meaningful way of life.” Another theme is clean, pared-down designs with splashes of color: yellow, blues and purples, explained Carolyn James McDonough of Diane James Designs, Inc. “We think of it as ‘industrial chic’ mixed with a bit of whimsy—or Axel Vervoodt meets Marcel Wanders or Liberty prints. People are trying to be individuals in their design aesthetic, rather than following the pack.” Finally, natural materials such as crystal, driftwood, coral, and stone are being used in functional, beautiful ways, according to John Heilmann, owner of Homenature, a full-scale home décor store in Southampton, NY. The NYIGF offers a broad selection of design-driven home, gift and lifestyle merchandise with more than 2,700 exhibitors covering 400 product categories and 100,000 lines. The show is open from Saturday, January 30 to Thurs, February 4, 2010.
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